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Animal Services

Individuals interested in the well-being of animals can pursue training and careers in animal services. Read on for information on the many options in animal services, including grooming, training and more.

Inside Animal Services

Many career options are available for animal lovers to work within the animal services field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in animal services include kennel attendants, groomers, animal caretakers, pet sitters, grooms (horse caretakers), zookeepers and animal trainers ( Experience working with animals is an important requirement for anyone wishing to enter an animal services career.

Animal Caretakers

Kennel attendants primarily take care of dogs and cats while owners are away. Duties include feeding, walking, exercising and cleaning the animals and their kennels. Pet sitters travel to pet owners' homes and take care of the pets there. Animal caretakers often work in animal shelters and clean kennels, bathe animals, walk them and work with the public to help prospective pet owners find pets.


Groomers care for animals' appearance. They mostly specialize in taking care of dogs and cats. Groomers will bathe, brush and clip the pet's fur. They'll also clip and file claws and clean the animal's ears. Grooms are caretakers for horses. They exercise and feed them and perform general stable duties, including cleaning stalls. Grooms with a great deal of experience and expertise may become trainers as well.

Zookeepers and Animal Trainers

Zookeepers take care of animals in zoos or animal park environments. They feed the animals, clean their exhibits and take care of animals' basic needs. Keepers may also work with the public, answering questions and ensuring the visitors at the zoo are behaving properly toward the animals. Animal trainers' jobs may include training them to work with people who have disabilities, or teaching them to perform tricks, provide security and be obedient.

If any of these occupations within this field appeal to you, check out the resources below to find out more about educational options and career paths.

Education Information

A bachelor's degree in biology, animal science or a similar area is often required for trainers, especially those who are planning to work with marine mammals. If a degree isn't required, a certification or prior experience will be useful. Kennel attendants are often required to have high school diplomas or GEDs. Most animal shelters require high school diplomas or GEDs and experience with animals for these positions. A background check may also be performed.

Certification options are available for groomers, but most employers only require high school diplomas or GEDs plus experience. For grooms, completing courses in equine care or years of experience working with horses will create an edge over other job candidates.

Bachelor's degrees in animal-related fields, like biology and zoology, can be found at most universities. Biology courses, classes in animal physiology, mathematics, zoology and ecology are all helpful when preparing for an animal trainer career. A few colleges offer associate's degrees and certificate programs in animal care. These programs focus mainly on dogs and cats and teach training, grooming and the basic care of animals. These programs can offer background for further study, or they can prepare students to engage in the careers described above.

Visit the following links to get additional details on degrees and formal training options in the animal services field.

Distance Learning Options

Some distance learning options are available for animal groomers and trainers. Take a look at the articles below for information on these online programs and courses.

Career Options

Animal services includes three major career paths: caretakers, groomers and trainers. These articles provide more insight into these options, including information on training, employment prospects and potential salaries.

Employment Information

The BLS projects that overall employment of animal care and service workers will increase 15% in the 2012-2022 decade as a result of both high turnover rates and the growing demand for pet services. Those occupations involving companion animal care are expected to grow faster than those dedicated to horses, marine animals or zoo animals. According to May 2013 BLS data, nonfarm animal caretakers made an average yearly wage of $22,510 while animal trainers averaged $31,030.

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